How Petrona Xemi, a Two-Spirit Trans Womxn From El Salvador, is Preserving History and Shaping the Future…One Language At a Time

By Mayra Mejia

Petrona Xemi Tapepechul is a powerhouse. A consummate creative - she is a playwright, actress, and model. The Two-Spirit Transgender woman from Kuskatan land (now known as El Salvador) is also a language worker and educator. I wanted to speak with Xemi about her journey - becoming a polyglot, learning Nawat (a native language of central America, in danger of extinction), and how it ties with her work as an educator and activist. 

 

When did you begin your work as an educator and professional translator? 

I began working as an arts educator in 2008 in community spaces. I helped create a Transgender Native American Art Collective (now named Angel Rose Artist Collective), which centers educating and healing our communities through the arts. I have been interpreting and translating since I was a kid. I was an interpreter for Asociación Nacional de Indígena Salvadoreña and other community groups and now work as an independent Spanish/English language interpre...

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